Now, having said that, there are two ways to accomplish that. The first is by being the guy with the loudest voice and demanding that people follow you. This will work, trust me, but only for the short term. The second and most effective way to lead people is by building relationships, trust, and showing them a consistent and dependable track record. This type of leadership is achieved by showing them not only what it is that you want to accomplish, but also explaining why you want to accomplish it in the first place.
This reminds me of an old Little League coach of mine and the rival team’s coach from my youth. Let's call my old coach Coach Jones and the rival coach Coach Smith. My coach, Coach Jones, was a good guy, but he would tell you right up front that, “Respect is demanded and not earned.” That’s what he believed, that’s what he was taught in sports and in his career in the military, and that’s how he coached us kids. For the most part, it worked on us. We would run through walls for Coach Jones and we won some games along the way. In fact, we had the second best record going into the playoffs. Fast forward to the end of the season and guess where we ended up? Not in first place, but in second. You see, coach was able to get us halfway up the mountain because he demanded us to follow him. The team that won the championship earned it and so did their coach. Coach Smith was more of a dad to them than a drill sergeant like Coach Jones. Their coach was firm, fair and loving; Our coach would cuss and yell if we messed up. His technique scared us into playing well, but over time we ran out of steam.
I often think of lessons learned in my youth when I lead my teams and I am constantly asking myself some questions: What kind of leader do I want to be? What kind of leader do I want them to see and hear? What kind of example do I want to be for them? Which coach do I want to be, Coach Jones or Coach Smith? The one that will get them to follow me for a little while or forever?
The fact of the matter is that Coach Jones and Coach Smith are perfect analogies for people when they think of God. Most people think of God like Coach Jones--a God who demands our worship, love, attention and is ready to be disappointed when we mess up. Ready to drop the hammer on us. The honest truth is that it’s the complete opposite. God is more like Coach Smith. God loves us and wants us to choose to follow Him and worship Him. He is relentlessly chasing after us with a pursuit that is unmatched to anything we could ever imagine.
So I not only remind you, leaders, but I encourage you to always do your best to not only be the kind of leader that you would want to follow, but an example of Jesus to your teams, subordinates, peers, and superiors.
Mat McNutt serves as the location pastor for NLC's Saco, Maine location. He spends most of his time shepherding his location as well as developing leaders underneath him. Mat enjoys watching a good movie with his wife Torie, getting people to fall in love with Jesus, and spending time with his family. Mat and Torie live with their children, Colby, Madison, Calman, and Claire in Sanford, ME.